President Joe Biden’s administration has portrayed its immigration policy as a humane departure from recent precedent. In a March briefing at the White House, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that his agency was coming “out of the depths of cruelty” in which it operated during the Trump administration. But as the new administration prepares to detain thousands of migrant children at sites with histories of toxic contamination, environmental justice advocates are questioning whether such circumstances can truly be considered humane.
Last month, hundreds protested in the Miami-area suburb of Homestead, where the once-largest youth migrant detention center in the U.S. was slated to reopen, despite the fact that it had been deemed too environmentally toxic for humans by the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Air Force, and Miami-Dade County. The Homestead Migrant Detention Facility, which former President Donald Trump temporarily closed in 2019 neighbors a Superfund site where 16 sources of highly contaminated military waste, including arsenic, lead, and mercury, are still found. (It was also notorious for reports of sexual abuse by sta... Read more